Archive | November 2013

The elephant in the room

43159718Something I don’t really go into much here is my political beliefs, and it’s for good reason. Lots of times, when someone expresses a belief on an issue, they get dumped into a “camp” by those who disagree with them, and written off as ignorant, uneducated, crazy, or simply as just an asshole. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, mostly because of some of the issues that have arisen and taken a toll on my life and the lives of those around me. Now, I think it’s best to remind everyone that sometimes, just sometimes, people can truly be middle of the road and not blindly follow one camp’s ideals or the others’.

1I’ve been dumped in the right wing camp recently, mostly due to my dislike of Obamacare and my support of the 2nd Amendment. While I do have to laugh at this a little, it does irritate me that people write me off as being their enemy on all issues due to my opinion on one, simply because they’re stuck in some bullshit partisan world where you’re either A or B, as opposed to shades of grey (without the beatings, rape, and butt sex). Truth be told, I do this as well to an extent, but only after finding out someone’s views on multiple issues, or when they self proclaim “I’m this, and proud of it!”. While I can understand the inclination to be in a group as opposed to having specific individual views, I’m not at all that way.

My views are determined as follows. I read about an issue, listen to both sides, research the information available, and THEN make my decision. I try to look at things objectively, as much as anyone really can. When I see people who simply follow their party, it irks me a bit. Listening to one side NEVER gives you a clear view of the issue. I get that it satisfies a need to belong and to be supported in your views and beliefs, so it’s much easier to just follow the crowd, but I constantly see intelligent people ignore facts and the weight of facts just so they wouldn’t **gasp** side with the “enemy”. Make your own decisions, folks. Look at the information and data, and decide on your own with a clear mind. Also, don’t ignore or demean data just because the result disagrees with your gut reaction. Data is data. Draw conclusions from it, don’t start with conclusions and seek the relevant data.

My other problem with my views is this: how I feel on a topic politically, doesn’t mean that’s how I feel personally. I’ll explain that with an example. I oppose Obamacare, for too many reasons to really go into here. When I tell people this, and discuss it, I’m automatically seen as someone who doesn’t give a shit about poor people getting healthcare, or helping others at all for that matter. While I can see that some people who oppose it ARE that way, I’m not. My personal feelings might actually surprise these people, but at that point I’m usually so turned off by their attitude that I just bow out. I actually think a form of socialized healthcare CAN be a good thing, and work for a nation. I just don’t think it CAN happen here in America. Our problem is the way our healthcare ecosystem is, with big companies running the show, and not an altruistic bone among them (Haiyo!). The only way it’d truly work would be if they weren’t there, but that can’t legally happen. Instead, I view the issue in the context of our cultural, economic, and political reality. That’s where I form my views. It has nothing to do with what I wish our country would be like, and everything to do with the reality at hand. People who don’t think like this, IMHO, are stuck living in a modified reality where their illusions taint what is actually happening around them. Just because you believe all bears are friendly, doesn’t mean they actually are. Reality, when you really face it, has a way of beating the illusions right out of you.

sad-but-true_c_610306My last point is this: I change my views and beliefs occasionally, if the available information proves me wrong. Yup, you heard that right (or read, depends on whether you read this out loud to your friends or family. If that’s the case, please seek professional help.). Contrary to what my parents will tell you, or pretty much anyone I’ve ever debated with, I can and do change my mind on issues. It really all depends on what new information comes about, and whether it can prove my previous conclusions wrong. If it doesn’t, but creates a cloud of doubt, I end up softening my view and saying something like “I THINK it’s this way, but I haven’t really seen enough to prove one or the other.” Many things are like that, not clear cut. We have to do our best to support more research into the issues that mean something to us. We need the best and more reliable data available. Then, once we have it, we need to view it objectively and make logical decisions, not ones born from fear, hope, or any other emotion. I’m not saying don’t be emotional, but don’t let it drive major decisions like this. Think about it, when people in movies make life or death choices based on emotional responses, one of two things typically happen. Either they fail miserably, or they succeed through luck alone. Don’t be that guy/gal. Think for yourself, and don’t pick sides on an issue because that’s what you HOPE the world would be like, be more realistic.

politics_c_148121One last parting thought. Don’t delude yourself into believing that any big politician truly has your best interests in mind. I can agree that many of them started out altruistic, but when they get to bigger positions in government, more of them has been bought off and they aren’t out for what’s good for you, they’re out for what gets them re-elected and paid. It’s possible that an exception may exist, but I wouldn’t go looking for it at the Rep or Dem camps. Maybe there’s an independent out there with great ideas and a truly altruistic agenda. If that’s the case, they’ll never get elected. Again, that’s not me being a defeatist or anything, just reading the available data. Take good care, folks.

Reader poll number 1

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“Doesn’t matter what I choose, I’m still gonna try to bang my sister!” – Commodus

I’ve been trolling through a bunch of my previous posts in the almost 2 years that I’ve been blogging, and I realized something. I write about a bunch of random shit! After really reviewing them, there doesn’t seem to be a type of post that people find more or less interesting, so I’m opening this question to anyone who actually reads my eclectic ramblings. What do you want me to post more of? What do you prefer? Is it topical issues/news, current movie reviews, hated movie reviews, video game shit (which includes arcade crap), life issues, crap that happens in my life, my own philosophical or introspective musings, etc? Throw a comment out there and let me know, cuz as usual, I’m clueless. I can’t really go by hits on the page, because 99.9% of people who view my blog don’t “like” or comment on the posts, so it’s hard to know if people find it interesting, boring, stupid, fun, ill-conceived, or whatever. So hit me with some feedback folks, if you are indeed out there. I’m guessing that I’ll get a max of 5 different people who’ll comment on this. I won’t list them by name, you know who you are. You’ll be my target audience, so let me know what to aim at you!¬†

End of game

I saw Ender’s game on Friday night in the IMAX. I was very intrigued about the movie, have read the book a bunch of times. I thought the book was totally awesome, but couldn’t imagine they’d be able to do it justice in only 2 hours. That being said, I went in with a generally open mind, hoping for the best. My overall impression of the movie, spoiler free, is that it was nice to see some of the scenes and characters on screen. The visuals were excellent. If you are a fan of the book, and have any interest in my SPOILER laden rant, then feel free to read on. If you haven’t read the book, you’ll get the gist of the movie, but much of what’s really happening will go right over your head. The Lish, who never read the book, really liked it. Then again, I’ve told her the real story in depth before. So, let’s head down that proverbial rabbit hole….

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Overall movie rating of…..”go read the book!”

SPOILER ALERT!!!  There will be nothing but spoilers from here on out. Read at your own risk!!!

I’m gonna do these as bullet points, since it’ll make it easier for those who read the book.

  • I’ll start with the most obvious thing: Ender’s age. In the movie, he’s around 11 years old or so from the get go. This is a huge difference from the book, in which he was 6 when chosen for battle school. This causes the impact of Ender’s genius to be ruined.
  • The whole socio-economical thing about the population problem, the “allowance” of 2 children, and the stigma of being a “third” was totally glossed over.
  • They show the video of Mazer Rackham’s final battle, and it’s on earth using fighter jets, not in space. Now, 50 years or so later, we’ve figured out space flight, interstellar travel, massive space stations, etc…riiiiiight
  • They don’t really get the invasions right. In the movie, it was an earth invasion only, and in the book there was when they invaded earth (China), and the space battle that happened later.
  • When he gets to battle school, he’s nowhere near as aggressive as he is in the movie, verbally. I’m pretty sure this was done to “shortcut”, since establishing the tone correctly would’ve taken way too much time. Sorry, getting ahead of myself.
  • In the movie, when he gets to battle school and is with his launchies, Ender defies and mouths off to Graff and Dap. After they leave the room (keep in mind, they’ve only been in school a few days or so), Ender turns to the launchies and tells them to go to bed, and they all follow his orders. This kind of thing follows throughout battle school.
  • Ender shines instantly in Bonzo’s army, winning the first game he attends, instead of waiting back for a few games.
  • They also don’t go into him learning strategies with his launchies after hours. Never mentioned. Sorry. The only person he practices with is Petra, and that’s only a few times.
  • When he leaves his launchies, Alai says “assammualaikum” to Ender. This is very important in the book, since revealing his religion is a big sign of love and trust. This implication is glossed over completely.
  • He meets Bean on the shuttle to battle school, so they’re the same age, instead of when he gets Dragon army. The rope scene with bean is in there, sorta, but with absolutely no explanation.
  • The game is different. In the movie, Bean is frozen, and goes back through his own gate and gets unfrozen so he can talk to Ender. Also, to get through the enemy gate, they just need to float through it. No need to have a handful of soldiers press their helmets to the sides to unlock the gate. They also mostly gloss over the way they changed the game to challenge Ender, breaking the rules, and Ender’s decision to break the rules as well in order to win. This was important in the book, because it really showed him how to think outside the box, and find a way to win at any cost. Only 3 or so battles are actually depicted in the movie, and the mention of Ender’s strategy of freezing your legs to use them as a shield is completely omitted.
  • The competition and rankings aspect for the soldiers and armies is completely glossed over. You get a vague idea as to the battles being important, but nowhere near what it was.
  • Ender’s isolation is mentioned and slightly portrayed, but NOTHING like the book. In the movie, he finds friends and such relatively easily, and he becomes friends with his army mates. He didn’t do that in the book quite so much, especially with Bean.
  • The mind game was changed. It stayed close to the book, but what actually happens is different. This is completely unnecessary. This game has HUGE meaning in the book, and correct me if I’m wrong, but there were no “buggers” in the game.
  • On the topic of the buggers, in the movie they’re always called the Formix. In the book, they’re always called the buggers.
  • When he gets to Command School, the simulation is different. He actually never sees Mazer when they’re playing each other. Mazer is thought to be in another room with another simulator, playing against Ender in real time. Also, his friends aren’t physically there with him when he plays, he plays alone.
  • Ender doesn’t find the bugger pupa on the forward bugger base, and he doesn’t notice the castle at first. He notices the giant’s body. This is from the mind game. The buggers recreate the giant’s body, and then the cliff and the castle, from a concrete-like material. He find this on another bugger world that he chose to spend time on after the final battle, during the cleanup operation.
  • They don’t go into what the Ansible is, how it works, or how we sent ships to the bugger homeworld years before and they’ll be arriving soon. In the movie, Ender is the one who figures out that they communicate telepathically, and that they must have meant us no more harm since they hadn’t attacked in 50 years. In the book, this is realized when the pupa gives him the visions. Which leads me to….
  • In the book, there is NOT a bugger left over guarding the queen pupa. The pupa is what gives Ender the visions or how they felt, and why they did what they did, since each queen is born with the knowledge of the queens before it. They also didn’t execute this part well, and the real feeling and emotional kick to the guts that this scene gave the reader in the book was more like a playful poke to the belly.
  • Finally, ALL of the political intrigue from the book, with
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Please, Santa, listen for ONCE!!!

There are tons of other differences, but these are the ones that caught my eye, as far as general content. There are two other things that killed the movie for me. The first of these is the pacing. The glossing over of stuff made the movie feel really rushed. No part of the movie really has time to sink in or illicit any sort of genuine emotion from the viewer. It’s pretty much full steam ahead. The other part of what they missed was the relationships between the characters. This, I believe, is the movie’s greatest failing. I could’ve dealt with the changes if they kept the characters and mood consistent, but they didn’t. This, I think, is a side effect of rushing through the movie. The characters were more or less stony, and I was left not feeling anything for them. I wasn’t rooting for people, I wasn’t saying “yeah, kick his ass, he’s a douche!”, and the heartstrings weren’t plucked by the love between any 2 characters. OK, it MAY have been there a little (according to the Lish), but I wasn’t really feeling it.

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Honestly, if you didn’t read the book, you might like it. It has the Lish seal of approval.

They did do some things right. The visuals were dead on, and the special effects were awesome. The way they depicted the buggers flying and the battles was great. The suits, guns, props, etc were all done well. I did like what they did visually with the simulator, it was a nice update to what the book described. They did include a lot of little stuff for fan service, which was enjoyable since they couldn’t possibly fit it all in the movie. They did include his love for Valentine, and it came off in a mostly meaningful way. What they missed there was that ALL of what Ender did, he did for her. He put himself through this hell to protect the life of his sister, the person he loved the most in the world. I do like that he as a character had enough depth to show that he truly hated violence, and was very empathetic. He never wanted to hurt anyone or anything, and showed this in the end by flipping out on Graf when he was told the battles were all real. When I said before that the characters were stony, I mean as compared to the book. Their true depth isn’t conveyed, but that’s not to say that no depth was. As I said, the Lish really liked the movie, and I think that for those who never read the book, it will be great fun. Hopefully, it’ll get people interested in reading the book so they can see just how good the story really is. If you haven’t read the book, give it a try. If you like it, READ THE BOOK!

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Read it, it’s way more immersive and awesome!

Maybe it was just my irritation at them changing things so much. Who knows. Overall, I think I may try watching it again with a clearer mind to see if it could be redeemed. As for doing the book justice, I think it failed. What they should have done was made this a long miniseries, similar to what they did with Frank Herbert’s Dune. I thought that was a great movie (the newer one that was 5 hours), and it was definitely true to the book in most respects. If they did that here, it would’ve been much better. I just feel like this was Hollywood’s way of getting Sci-fi readers in the theaters again, like they’ve done many times before. What really made the book Ender’s Game great, wasn’t the storyline, it was how the story was told. Total Recall, Blade Runner, Johnny Mnemonic, and Stranger in a Strange Land were all movie adaptations that really missed the tone and point of their respective books/stories. Sure, they’re decent as a separate and apart story (I love the first 3 I mentioned), but they aren’t true to the books in a profound way, and tend to miss the subtleties that made the books truly great. If these moviemakers ever figure out how to keep that intact, they’ll be able to turn out some truly incredible films. Instead we get entertaining, but wholly forgettable films.